Study predicts arthritis incidence to increase by 40 percent in 20 years

ATLANTA Arthritis is exploding in an aging population of U.S. baby boomers and is projected to increase by 40 percent in the next two decades, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the National Arthritis Data Workgroup.

The report found that nearly one in five U.S. adults (46 million people) have arthritis and an estimated 67 million people will be affected by 2030.

“The prevalence of arthritis overall continues to grow in the United States, which is not surprising given that many of the specific conditions are age related and the general population is aging,” stated Charles Helmick, a CDC epidemiologist and a lead author on the study. “Increases in some of the more common types of arthritis suggest a growing impact on the health care and public health systems,” he said.

The study, published in the January issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, has increased to 27 million people, up from 1990 estimates of 21 million. Other key findings include an increase in gout (3 million adults, up from 2.1 million) and a decrease in rheumatoid arthritis (down from 2.1 million adults to 1.3 million). The study also estimated that 294,000 U.S. children and teenagers under age 18 (or one in 250 children) have been diagnosed with arthritis or another rheumatologic condition.

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